How to stop dogs from digging?

How to stop dogs from digging?

One of the biggest frustrations that comes with dog ownership is trying to establish how to stop dogs from digging. Our dogs bring lots of joy into our lives, but excessive digging problems can certainly put a strain on the owner-dog relationship.

How To Stop Dogs From Digging

Dogs dig for a number of reasons and it’s important to keep in mind that your dog is not digging to spite you. If you don’t clearly communicate to your dog that his digging is unacceptable behavior, he won’t even realize that he is doing anything “wrong”.

Why Do Dogs Dig Holes?

To learn how to stop dogs from digging holes it is crucial to determine the reason why your puppy or older dog is digging in the first place. Below is a list of the most common reasons your dog may be digging:

  • He simply likes to dig!
  • Your dog may just seeking your attention
  • May be bored and digs for mental and physical stimulation. What do you expect a bored, lonely and isolated dog to do?
  • If your dog is digging under the fence he may be trying to get out to search for a mate.
  • Dogs often dig in freshly turned dirt (like your rose bed!).
  • Dogs are often attracted to fertilized dirt – the smell of fertilizer is irresistible to some dogs.
  • To dig themselves a den – much as they would have in the wild.
  • Some breeds are very prone to digging (terriers, labradors), it is instinctual and bred into them.
  • May be because your dog is hunting for some little critters that live in your garden.
  • For food storage purposes. While you and me prefer to use the fridge, our dogs think the garden will do just fine.

How To Stop Dogs From Digging

Whenever you are trying to change any behavior in your dog the golden rule is to be consistent! Make it very clear to your dog what is, and is not acceptable behavior. Once you have determined the likely reason for your dog’s digging, you must then pinpoint the solution. Below is a list of proven techniques. If applied correctly they will help to control your dog’s digging problems.

  • He simply likes to dig!
  • Give your dog lots of exercise, including heaps of physical and mental stimulation. Your dog’s energy must be burned off in one way or another so why not channel it into something positive?
  • If your dog is always digging in order to bury a bone, don’t give bones! Substitute with chewing toys like rawhide bones. Confine your dog when you can’t supervise him. Place him in a crate, kennel run or indoors whenever you aren’t around to spy on him. You’ll need to do this until you have fixed the digging problem.
  • Blow up some balloons and bury them in the area your dog likes to dig. When he strikes a balloon, the noise of it popping startles your dog. In some cases the negative association this produces is enough to stop your dog from digging in the future. If you are able to be around your dog for a couple of days, you could have some success with this method. Whenever your dog starts to dig, reprimand him and spray him with the hose. Again this method produces a negative association to your dog each time he digs. You must perform this reprimand every time your dog starts digging holes for it to be successful.
  • If your dog has a favorite spot he likes to dig you can bury some chicken wire just under the surface of this area. When your dog starts to dig he won’t like the feeling of his paws scraping along the wire. I’ve used this method myself, and found that it worked well for my dalmation puppy who loved to dig!
  • This one doesn’t sound very nice but is a very popular and effective way to stop your dog from digging. What you do is fill up the holes your dog has created, adding some of his poop (feces) to the filling. Most dogs are really put off by this and won’t attempt to dig again. Some trainers advocate feeding your dog pineapple before performing this technique. Apparently the pineapple smells terrible when mixed with the poop.
  • Some dogs just copy what they see their owners doing. So if you’re working away in the garden, suddenly your dog may be interested in doing the same! Such dogs may need to be confined while you are working in the garden. This is probably another form of attention seeking behavior.
  • If you’ve got the room a great solution for both you and your dogs is to provide them with a digging area. You can actually encourage your dog to dig in this designated area. Fill it with nice soft sand and bury some of your dog’s favorite treats in it. Most dogs figure out that if they want to dig, they must go to this area. Check out this video which clearly shows how to create a digging area for your dog – dog digging box.
  • If your dog is digging under the fence it may be worth filling in all the holes in and under the fence. By blocking these outside distractions or triggers you take away the visual temptation that your dog may be trying to get at.
  • If you take a trip down to your local Pet Shop you will find many commercial products that claim to help digging problems. They are effective for some dogs and may be worth a try if you can’t manage the digging problem through training.
  • A couple of other methods you may want to try to control dog digging are to provide a few tasty chew toys for periods you are away from home and also employing a dog walker.

Good luck with stopping your dog from digging, and remember that basic dog obedience training is the key to correcting any dog behavioral problems. If your dog respects and trusts you, he will be eager to please you in all situations.


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